Still Only A Religious
'War Of Words'
Ray Franz

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Ray Franz"
Subject: Re: PAM
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 8:27 PM

We normally refuse to post letters that contain slurs such as "fundies" but this topic is important, so we will post your letter with this clarification.

Many theists (and recently, many atheists) suffer from the delusion that the question over the existence of gods is important. The truth is that this is one of the most unimportant questions to which we could possibly dedicate our time and energy. Unfortunately, many people tend to act as if it is important, and the result has brought much misery to the world. Thus my motive for establishing "Positive Atheism Magazine."

Yes. When they resort to name-calling and mud-slinging, we have not made our point. We must regroup and try something different.

Our material is posted for personal edification (so that readers can determine for themselves what they do or do not think about various things), and we do not recommend engaging with theists for any reasons except: (1) as a response to them after they have made claims or other intrusions, or (2) in the spirit of cooperation toward a common goal (such as the recent Baptist/Humanist and Mormon/Humanist dialogues sponsored by Paul Kurtz). Apart from these things, theists are our fellow humans, and "Positive Atheism" strongly urges all atheists to treat theists with the same dignity one would grant to any fellow human.

Remember, theists and atheists tend to agree on the most important life matters, disagreeing primarily on whether gods exist (a very unimportant matter, indeed). Unfortunately, the more dogmatic theists teach one another that the existential questions about gods are crucial, warranting action ranging from bigotry to outright persecution and even brutal executions. Some atheists have recently begun to make this same mistake.

If we can create strong bonds over the issues on which we agree, then we are less likely to become victims of this bigorty and persecution, because we have already established ourselves as strong members of our communities.

Since you mentioned new girlfriend Pam, I will use her as an example: She is a theist (more along the lines of a Deist, but a theist nonetheless). The fact is that our likes and similarities revolve around much more important questions than whether a god or gods exist. The theism-atheism question is way down the list to the point of being unworthy of our time. Sure, we joke about it at times, and we do express (and even delight in) our differences, but it would never come close to becomming important enough to endanger the love we have for one another -- which is based mostly on taste and ethics and values and -- most of all -- the mutual attraction that comes from having endured similar difficulties in life. I will state categorically that I have never met a woman who thinks more like I do than Pam does. Nevertheless, she is a theist and I am an atheist. Go figure? No. The theism-atheism issue means very little to either of us.

Pam is not the first one. Several years ago, Jeanne, my highschool sweetheart, tracked me down and contacted me. We eventually decided that we love one another, and had planned to marry as soon as her divorce was final (she was going to divorce him anyway; this had nothing to do with me). Meanwhile, Jeanne was a fundamentalist Christian of the type who believed that the Jonah and the Whale story was literal history -- that it actually happened. No. We had so much more in common (so much more of the important things) that the Christianity-atheism question was way down on the list. When it ended, I wrote the following poem:

Though the difference of opinion regarding the existence of gods was, at times, stressful, the relationship was marred by something much more important: her lack of integrity.

Time and time again I see atheists "lowering themselves" (so to speak) to the behavior that we would expect from dogmatic people. Atheism is not a dogma, but the simply lack of belief: they make the caims and we can either accept them if we find them convincing, or cintinue our openmindedness if we are not convinced by those claims.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

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